The San Diego Union Tribune (B7), August 3, 2001
President Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox are now at the poker
table deciding how many persons from Mexico currently residing illegally
in the United States will be given amnesty this year, a first step in
Fox's plan for an open border between the two countries. Not to be left
behind, Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle has raised the stakes and
proposed amnesty for all illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, we read the latest Census Bureau figures showing a U.S.
population increase of 33 million during the 1990s, which exceeded the
bureau's projections by 6 million persons and is the largest decadal jump
in U.S. history. The Census Bureau now projects that, by the end of the
century, U.S. population might exceed 1 billion, even in the absence of
an open border with Mexico. Most of these 1 billion will be immigrants
yet to arrive and their descendants.
President Fox is one of numerous powerful persons and groups lobbying for
continued and even increased high levels of immigration to the United
States. Two such groups are (1) the Democratic Party which believes,
probably correctly, that a majority of immigrants will vote Democratic
and (2) some Republican business interests who understand that massive
immigration depresses wages and provides additional consumers of products
Today, we would like to speak on behalf of three multitudinous, but
"voiceless" groups in America who are harmed by massive immigration.
The first group is the poorest segment of the U.S. population.
Independent studies by the Rand Corporation, the National Academy of
Sciences, and the Center for Immigration Studies all show that today's
policy of overimmigration negatively impacts the economic well-being of
the poorest Americans. A summary discussion by James Goldsborough appears
in the September/October 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs. Needless to say,
poor Americans are not the people who set our immigration policies.
In addition to the strictly economic considerations, overimmigration has
had disastrous consequences for the quality of education available to
poor inner-city Americans. No wonder that poll after poll shows that a
strong majority of poor Americans want to see immigration levels reduced.
The second voiceless group consists of indigenous non-human species. The
Nature Conservancy's comprehensive new book "Precious Heritage" --
foreword by Harvard conservation biologist E. O. Wilson -- depicts the
high correlation between U.S. endangered species and areas with rapid,
immigration-driven, population growth, including California, the
Southwest and Florida. It is not hard to see exploding human populations
eating up land that indigenous species have lived on for countless
This is quantified in a recent analysis by environmental/resource planner
Leon Kolankiewicz and public policy analyst Roy Beck, titled "Weighing
Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities." This report, and two others devoted
specifically to California and to Florida, show dramatically that massive
human sprawl in the Southwest and Florida is due not to poor urban
planning, but rather almost entirely to rapid population growth.
The connection to immigration? Here in California, for example, analysis
of our state government and U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicates that
about 90 percent of California's population growth during the 1990s was
due to immigrants and their children.
The third voiceless group is people and other creatures not yet born who
have no control over decisions being made today. An excellent analogy is
China. In the 1950s and 1960s the Chinese government encouraged high
fertility which peaked at 6.5 children per woman in the mid-1960s. This
irresponsible policy caused China's population to surpass 1 billion by
One consequence is the Draconian one-child-per-woman policy instituted
around 1980. Thus, present and future generations of Chinese families are
paying the price for previous shortsighted government policies. Rapid
population growth cannot be turned off like a faucet and the Chinese
population is projected to continue growing for at least another 30
years, at which point it will be about 1.5 billion, in spite of the
present harsh fertility policies.
Current immigration policies are propelling the United States to a 22nd
century population of over a billion. This will leave Americans then in
the same nasty situation as the Chinese are in now. High fertility or
overimmigration, the outcome -- too many people -- is all the same.
Zuckerman is a professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA. Hurlbert is a professor of
biology at San Diego State University. Zuckerman and Hurlbert are directors of the
non-profit, public interest group Californians for Population
Copyright 2001 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.